The Parks and Recreation Master Plan (PRMP) Steering Committee arose from a firestorm of protest in June 2015 that pitted Penticton City Council against its citizens when council tried to commercialize Skaha Park after a secret process and without assent of the electors.
Faced with a daunting task in a climate of anger and mistrust, the steering committee members did not take the time to explore their values or to understand the meaning and purpose of our parks. Most important, they did not analyze the root cause of the mess they are dealing with.
Instead, they jumped into the deep end by trying to tackle the issue of commercial uses. The resulting eight-page section on commercial uses in parks is tortuous and exceptionally complicated. It uses language that will always be subject to interpretation and therefore abuse. It does not solve the problem. They could make it twice as long and it still would not solve the problem.
Bylaw 2002-42 is the root cause of this mess and the PRMP must deal with it.
This bylaw was approved by 93 per cent of voters in a 2002 referendum. Clause 3 of this bylaw allows the City to lease all or part of our parkland. But clause 3 was not shown to electors when they voted.
The Community Charter provides the authority for municipal legislation. Sections 27 and 30 of the Charter specify that municipal governments must seek approval of the electors before they can dispose of parkland. Leasing is defined as a form of disposition. Licensing is not, and does not require approval of the electors.
But the City now argues that clause 3 of the Parks dedication bylaw gives them advance and blanket approval to lease (dispose) any of our parks without seeking approval of the electors. This was clearly not the intent of the electors, fired up as they were by the Protect Our Parks movement in opposition to a plan to sell off Okanagan Lake Park for commercial development.
Ironically, the Bylaw we thought would protect our parks actually endangers them. Herein hides the core issue.
As long as the Bylaw 2002-42 loophole is used by our City to evade requirements of the Community Charter, our parks will be at risk no matter how we twist ourselves in knots trying to create rules for commercial use.
The PRMP Steering Committee must reccomend Council amend the Parks Dedication Bylaw to remove the offensive language from Clause 3.
The people of Penticton need to speak out now.
The future of our parks depends on it. Please read the Executive Summary of the PRMP Draft 2 and let yourself be heard by attending the open house on Monday or responding on the City’s website.
Dr. Gerry Karr
We the citizens of Penticton want no commercialization of the parks, any park… and especially the crown jewel Skaha Lake Park.
Skaha Lake is a very small lake. It is the final passage of the returning salmon. The Okanagan Nation did not invest $10 million in the hatchery to have the environment destroyed. The marina is there, the boat slips need major upgrading. My preferred option is to launch and remove the boats on a daily basis, on that small lake. And there are many options and methods for that style of launch. We have the knowledge to do so.
Having been a lifelong boater, that marina is already too large for that small lake. To even have a marina that Trio is proposing 60 to 100 slips. Leaking fuel, oil, etc. It’s ridiculous !
If the marina stays (in my mind it should not) then there should be no larger footprint allowed that it has within the fence line existing in 2015. Nothing extra.
There are many hurdles to overcome, the town folk are totally (79 per cent according to Oraclepoll commissioned by The Herald) opposed to any commercial development taking place in any park. Least of all Skaha Lake Park!
We can easily see this being an election issue in 2018… and we all know that.
What part of the massive outpouring of signatures and petitions, protests, surveys doesn’t this council and senior staff understand?
We the citizens of Penticton want no part of the Trio in our parks, not anywhere, None!
What pot of gold awaits the council, and town management for them to be so determined to carry on with this fiasco and Trio?
Georges & Cheryl Jansen
An open letter to Tarik Sayeed, NDP candidate in the Penticton riding.
I am puzzled by your track record regarding the Skaha Lake Park proposal.You have the reputation of having done a flip-flop on your support for the issue. According to the April 21 issue of the Penticton Herald you stated at a Peachland all-candidates forum that you had opposed the project at council meetings on June 29, 2015 and September 28, 2015.
In the same issue, James Miller reports that you voted in support of it at a meeting on July 25, 2015, and did not support Coun. Campbell Watt’s motion for reconsideration. Now you seem to say publicly that you opposed it all along. Please explain.
I am not prepared to vote for you if this reporting is correct. It is definitely your “kryptonite,” as James Miller describes it.
I cannot vote for the Liberals given their terrible track record on education, social services finances and honesty. I cannot vote for the NDP candidate if he supported, or even worse, did a flip-flop on the Skaha Lake proposal. I guess that leaves the Greens but they have no chance at all for forming government.
Maybe I won’t vote at all.
It seems that the City of Penticton Parks & Recreation Master Plan Steering Committee is struggling with the degree of commercialization which is acceptable in our publicly-owned parks.
Hopefully they will resolve to indicate that no new permanent private business or private structures will be allow in Penticton’s public parks.
Why is it we cannot trust our elected officials and especially select senior-level bureaucrats?
When most were confident our parks were safe from these bullies, it turns out maybe they are not safe at all. Was the Parks Master Plan Steering Committee an exercise to protect our parks as most had hoped or was it created to make commercially developing our parks legal by “stacking the deck” with a committee favouring council’s personal wishes?
Does it also appear those senior staff and elected officials are like five-year-old spoiled brats that will stop at nothing to get their own way, where winning is more important than what is best long term for residents and tourists of Penticton?
My view is those at the helm care little of the environment, parks or the public and lack long-term foresight beyond the point of unprofessional conduct.
With the present mayor and council it seems to be my way or the highway.
How can we get rid of this council once and for all? Are they truly acting in the best interests of those they represent?
The next election has to be well thought- out, with five polling stations, two of which are senior friendly/accessible and a manual recount of the vote-counting machines. Most would agree the last election had many unanswered questions.
Which candidates are willing to give up the dental and extended medical benefits plan? Which candidates are willing to sign an affidavit/legal document once elected to lock-in our parks as permanent green space for which they were intended, not to develop at the whims of a select few and to put a lock on commercial development, by covent if such can be done.
I have come to realize the current senior staff and elected officials will not deviate from their dream team agenda, but will instead take different avenues to reach their personal agenda in spite of overwhelming opposition. There is zero hope on changing these short-sighted officials, thus making the next election the most important election in Penticton history to save our parks, facilities and sports fields for now and future generations.
Penticton needs politicians and staff that are smart enough to value green space, the public and their word.Which candidates will run on a platform of what is best for the public and not themselves?
Let the selection process and screening begin… we need to know in advance which candidates are truly genuine.
Most people probably know by now that the City of Penticton is working on producing a Parks and Recreation Master Plan. A steering committee has been appointed to assist this process.
All well and good. However, we the taxpayers or citizens of Penticton (the rightful owners of the parks), need to express our views and opinions to what level we wish to see commercialization take place in our parks.
We need to address or visualize how commercialization may impact our time, enjoyment and activities in our parks. How would we, for example, feel if one day our favourite walk is blocked by a “No Trespass, No public Access” sign or maybe a fence. There will be a building or a commercial business on a portion of our park (leased by the City to the commercial operator) where we walked, picnicked or played yesterday. Or maybe, your favourite beach is no longer accessible ?
I urge everyone in Penticton to become informed and become involved before it’s too late. The last time commercialization in one of our parks was proposed (in Skaha Lake Park) and had already become a done deal without our knowledge or consent, it took a lot effort, protests and legal costs to get it finally right.
An overwhelming majority of us opposed commercialization in our parks but it took a lot of effort to get the message across and set it right.
Let’s be proactive this time! Please get involved !
Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and I have an email conversation going. He claims he’s only the spokesperson who doesn’t set policy or direction without council’s approval. Does he expect me to think he has no influence at all?
He believes I have taken his comments regarding commercialization of parks out of context. Even claims there is no intentions of selling off parkland or commercialization. Jakubeit said “the city needs to be open to new ways to generate revenue including parks and parking, as they face an annul problem of balancing the budget.” How do you generate money from parks without either selling them off or commercializing them? Policies for parks belong in bylaws not in a commercial-use policy.
Further he claims there has never been a push or lobby of the Parks and Recreation Committee to “create” more commercial activity. Yet, the very company the city hired as consultants recommended the word “unencumbered” be left out, as it was too strong.
Does leaving that word out “allow” for commercialization? He has assured me, that whatever the final document, presented by that committee, looks like, the parks will be protected. My question to him was, “What will the parks be protected from?”
Yet another quote from the mayor: “If the community says, ‘my taxes have to go up a few extra dollars,’ but that means you’re not bugging me about parking, you’re not doing any revenue generation in the parks,’ I’m totally good with that.”
By the time all of these committees have made their recommendations and the community has its “say,” you will have already approved projects and plans that will not be able to be stopped. So please don’t give me the, “We’re listening speech.” I’m totally not good with that.
I attended the public meeting on Wednesday night at the convention centre where our mayor, along with council, two city staff members, the city lawyer, two Trio Marine members and their lawyer were present.
Something I, and many others, can’t comprehend, is the lease itself. One councillor said that Trio did not fulfill their obligations so the lease is dead. However, there was much disagreement between everyone else up on that stage.
Who doesn’t know what is going on? This one councillor, the mayor and the rest of council, the city lawyer, or Trio?
I don’t understand how there can be such ambiguity on this foremost major item between all the parties involved and we were not given a straight-forward answer to the many times that question was put forward. What the heck is going on?
Regarding the 29-year lease, plus the possible two five-year extensions and first right of proposal for other amenities (concessions, etc.) because Trio “doesn’t want any competition” is a farce as well. If a business needs 29 years to make a go of it, then they either need someone with actual business sense and experience or forget about the project in the first place.
I heard $1.5 million dollars Trio has invested and they need to recoup. How many people spend that amount for their house? But, this is a business we are talking about, something wrong there.
Why the city has to pay back some of Trio’s expenses as a compromise is another farce. That is the price of doing business. Suck it up, Trio! Penticton mayor, city council and city staff, please get your act together, use your common sense, abide by your obligations that you have been elected for and set this issue at rest once and for all. Get rid of Trio Marine and don’t sell the farm unnecessarily to do so!
Last Thursday’s decision to proceed with minimal commercial intrusion in Skaha Park was a win, win, for the people and city council.
Green space has been preserved. The goal of the Skaha Park Society was achieved. COP does not have to buy out the Trio Group with taxpayers’ funds. Trio can plunge ahead with their “dream”, raise necessary funding, and pursue the various agencies who will allow the permits for their project.
The above scenarios seem too good to be true… and they are.
Somewhere there is a snag, a catch, a rotting fishy smell to the entire process dating back to 2013. Who initiated the commercial exploitation of Skaha Park?
Will we ever find out? I doubt it!
The mayor and council, certain city hall staff members, and the Trio Marine Group have lost the trust of the citizens of Penticton. There is a desperate need for transparency, honesty, and openness in their future dealings.
Watch them carefully and closely.
In addition, I would like to nominate the members of the Save Skaha Park Advisory committee and all who have helped SSPS for the “Volunteers of the Year” award. The Advisory Committee has put in countless hours over the past 18 months, and they deserve our thanks and recognition.
Chris and Judy MacKay